Team Tempest mentors young robotics enthusiasts

Each year, St. Patrick Catholic High School’s robotics team, Team Tempest, extends its arms to the community to help the community grow in its knowledge of science.  Team Tempest does this in a variety of ways throughout the year including giving exhibitions of its robots and hosting a summer camp to teach students about all different types of science.  One of the greatest ways, however, that Team Tempest is able to share its love of science is through mentoring young middle school and elementary school students through LEGO League.  Team Tempest has over twenty members who help mentor LEGO League students at Nativity, St. Alphonsus, Our Lady of Fatima, and even the team that has the seventh and eighth graders from St. Patrick

FIRST Lego League is an organization that aims to give young students first-hand encounters with robotics.  Through this organization student teams are challenged to build a robot that can accomplish a series of tasks.  They are judged on the robot design and how many points the robot is able to receive in the obstacle course.  The mentors from Team Tempest help by teaching the students how to program the robots to accomplish the tasks.  The mentors also give practical ideas for the robot design.  Another big thing mentors help teach students is the importance of setting goals. Through this program, young students are able to not only learn the value of patience, but also they learn how to achieve success one step at a time.

Although the robot is a great component of the LEGO League competition, it only encompasses two of the four sections that the teams are judged on; the other two parts of the competition are Core Values and Project.  The Core Values segment of the competition involves the students gathering together and learning about values that are imperative to true success.  Many of these value revolve around teamwork and at the competition, the teams are challenged by an activity that forces them to work as effective team.  They are judged on many different aspects, including a unique philosophy called “Cooperition,” which is basically the combination of cooperation and competition and is stressed as a key to success through this organization.  The mentors from St. Patrick help the elementary schools prepare for these teamwork exercises by challenging the teams with their own original teamwork exercises.

In the Project segment, teams must identify a real-world problem that is related to the theme.  The teams then work to find a solution and present it in an effective way to a panel of judges.  In this segment, the mentors must take a step back and let the students do most of the work.  The mentors’ roles are primarily to help encourage the students and help them stay on a realistic track towards a successful solution.

Through this mentoring project, the mentors are able to teach the students so much about robotics and about important life values.  However, as many mentors will attest, it is often the innovative elementary school students who end up doing a majority of the “teaching” to the high school students!

Story by JR Riojas